Monday, April 27, 2009

A Surprise Gift from God

What an amazing gift God gave to Steve and me this week! Those of you who have read The Best Life Ain't Easy, But it's Worth It will remember the story of Steve's miraculous conversion to Christ on Halloween Day when our wonderful Dutch pastor, Jan Senneker, came to visit me to talk about church membership. Instead, I stayed in the kitchen while he and Steve spent an hour unearthing Steve's last few questions about the Christian life. Sometime around 10 PM, Steve bowed his head and quietly prayed. All he said was, "I accept." In my mind I've photographed his face, and Jan's, the joy of that moment, the sense that something life-changing had just happened. 

That was thirty-seven years ago in Baltimore, MD. Within days, Steve's job changed to the Boston area, our wonderful Christian friends had a dinner for us and gave us a copy of The Living Bible. With great sadness, we kissed them all good-bye and left. Most, we have never seen again. A few, like Ginny and Keith Edwards, have stayed in close touch. 

Some years later we heard that tragic news that Jan and his wife Ruth had begun a new pastorate in Melbourne Beach, FL, not far from where we live now, and that their two oldest children were killed while waiting for the school bus. The sorrow was enormous. 
I regret now that we didn't try harder to locate them and express our love and condolences, but those were wild and crazy days and for some reason we didn't. We often spoke of their family and longed to be with them again.

And now yesterday, our of nowhere, Jan Senneker's name appeared in my inbox. I yelled to Steve, "Guess who just wrote us?" We read his letter out loud, hearing again of his joyful memory of that Halloween night long ago, of his and Ruth's love for us, and recounting it ourselves. A happy correspondence has since ensued. How good is God?

Another joyful wrinkle in all this, is that now we have a Dutch daughter-in-law, Jose, as well! We are linked in a new way! It has to make God and all of Heaven chuckle at the way He works out even small details in our lives: where we move and when, the jobs that just "happen" to fall into place, the "bad things" that eventually become a ministry, the giants of faith like Jan and others who walk into our lives right when we need them. Even on Halloween! 

Joy to you, my friend! Watch for His surprises today.

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